Diversity, generally understood and embraced, is not casual liberal tolerance of anything and everything not yourself. It is not polite accommodation. Instead, diversity in, in action, the sometimes painful awareness that other people, other races, other voices, other habits of mind, have as much integrity of being, as much claim upon the world as you do. No one has an obligation greater than your own to change, or yield, or to assimilate into the mass. The irreconcilable is as much a part of social life as the congenial. Being strong in life is being strong amid differences while accepting the fact that your own self can be a considerable imposition upon everyone you meet. I urge you to consider your own oddity before you are troubled or offended by that of others. And I urge you, amid all the differences present to the eye and mind, to reach out and create the bonds that will sustain the commonwealth that will protect us all. We are meant to be here together.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
In the midst of all the drama going on in the news these past weeks on black vs. white, white collar vs. blue collar, rural vs. urban, I was once again cleaning out old stuff and found something written by the then-President of Wesleyan University, William Chace. It made me stop in my tracks the first time I read it back in 1990, and it stopped me again this week: